by Aggelos Skordas
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev will hold a much-anticipated meeting on Thursday on the sidelines of the European Union-West Balkans Summit in Sofia, with both Athens and Skopje hoping for a decisive step towards the final settlement of the longstanding naming dispute, as both sides confirm their good intentions. The Greek side has repeatedly declared that the given solution must produce a name to be used erga omnes (towards everyone), including domestic use, which demands a revision of FYROM’s constitution.
Tsipras arrived in Sofia on Wednesday and participated in events of the European Council and the European Union-West Balkans Summit, including the working dinner of the leaders of the 28 European Union member states, which was hosted by European Council President Donald Tusk.
The crucial day for the two neighbouring countries is today, when Tsipras and Zaev will hold a one-hour meeting during which they will discuss the progress of the bilateral negotiations.
According to local media from both countries, the name Gorna Makedonija (Upper Macedonia) or the alternative Nova Makedonija (New Macedonia) appear to be accepted by both sides and what is now left towards a solution is whether Skopje will accept the erga omnes use of the new name.
On his behalf, while addressing a press briefing, Greek government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that there has been “significant progress but we are still far away from concluding negotiations and reaching an agreement”.